Monday, April 15, 2013

Auditable platform proves vital after tight results in Venezuela

Nicolas Maduro has just been declared Venezuela’s new president after a very tight match with Henrique Capriles in which the electronic voting system proved to be crucial in offering results that could be thoroughly audited. 

After the early demise of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela decreed that it would hold another presidential election on April 14th. With a deadline of only 34 days before this new electoral event, the country faced the unprecedented challenge of setting up a nationwide electoral event with extreme time constraints, and it did not fail. This was only possible thanks to the use of electoral technology.

The advantages of e-voting in terms of speed are many. Radio reports stated that after 11 elections, Venezuelans are already familiar with the electoral technology and voted in less than 2 minutes, so fast that people thought the voter turnout had been low because there were almost no lines at the polling places when actually 79% of the eligible voters showed up to exert their right to suffrage, a percentage that clearly shows the high trust in the electronic voting system. Its benefits, though, went beyond the polling station level and permeated the large-scale organization of the event.

The speed at which the election was set up did not compromise its integrity, as it was accompanied by a series of 15 audits and tests spread out throughout the stages of the electoral process, all of them executed in the presence of the political parties involved. Due to the fact that Maduro won by a very slim margin (234,935 votes according to the first official announcement of the Electoral Body), one more audit has been requested to check the vote receipts emitted by the voting machines and compare them against the results transmitted to the tallying centers. The fact that this is possible attests to the reliability of a fully auditable e-voting platform.